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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-18-2019

Pittsburgh Press, April 18, 1919:

Reports from the Redsox are that [Ray] Caldwell, the former Yankee pitcher, is acting up again. Further it is reported that Ed Barrow has asked for waivers on the big pitcher and is prepared to turn him adrift. Caldwell has long been his worst enemy.
[Several years ago] Caldwell disappeared [after being suspended] and finally was located pitching for a team in Panama under an assumed name. Evidently Ed Barrow refuses to be bothered with Caldwell.

Barrow put up with Caldwell for a few months, having just acquired the flaky pitcher in an offseason trade. The Sox released Caldwell in August, he signed with the Indians later that month, and five days later got struck by lightning while he was on the mound. Ray dusted himself off and finished off a complete game victory.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 18, 2019 at 10:40 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-17-2019

Pittsburgh Press, April 17, 1919:

Five members of the regular pitching staff of the St. Louis Nationals were injured [in St. Louis] yesterday when an automobile in which they were riding collided with a street car. The injured were William Doak, Leon Ames, Oscar Horstman, William Sherdel and Lee Meadows. The car was driven by Meadows.

That could have been very bad. Those five pitchers combined for 60 starts and 517 innings in 1919. That’s roughly 43 percent of their pitching staff.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 17, 2019 at 09:55 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-16-2019

Pittsburgh Press, April 16, 1919:

Babe Ruth, referred to by followers of the national pastime as baseball’s “superman,” will match his mighty bludgeon against the wizardy [sic] of American league pitchers as a regular in the lineup of the Boston Redsox, according to the reports from the training camp of the world’s champions in the south.
The slugging giant will be used as an outfielder rather than as a pitcher, according to the present plans of Manager Barrow. He may be sent to the mound occasionally by the Redsox leader if his services are badly needed…

It is hardly likely that the demon slugger will be found in left field day in and day out. As the big youth finds it rather hard to successfully bat against southpaws it is believed that he will alternate with Del Gainor [sic].

Ruth wasn’t quite as good against lefties as he was against right-handed pitching in his early years, but he was still better than Del F. Gainer.

Next to the Ruth story, on the same page linked above, is a story about how the Yankees think they have something in a young lefty pitcher/pinch hitter named Francis J. O’Doul. They sure did, but it would be nearly a decade before the big leagues really saw what he could do.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 16, 2019 at 11:27 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, April 15, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-15-2019

Memphis News Scimitar, April 15, 1919:

In a statement issued by the national baseball commission [in Cincinnati] yesterday, the supreme court of baseball announces that the decision of Judge Stafford…in the suit of the Baltimore Federal league club necessitates no modification of the system under which organized baseball is operating…

The statement follows:
“The decision made by Justice Stafford that organized baseball violated the prohibitions of the Sherman act was not rendered in a suit by the United States to dissolve the combination. The decision, therefore, necessitates no modification of the system under which organized baseball is operating.

Well, they weren’t wrong. They didn’t have to change anything.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 15, 2019 at 10:24 AM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-11-2019

Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, April 11, 1919:

It isn’t often that the Old Guard will confess to latter-day greatness. But Joe Kelley was asked whether or not Babe Ruth could hit a baseball as hard as Ed Delahanty. The old Oriole star responded promptly, “Ruth can hit a ball as hard as any man that ever lived.” That includes Delahanty, the mightiest swatter of the old regime.

Joe Kelley was no dummy.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 11, 2019 at 10:01 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-9-2019

Pittsburgh Press, April 9, 1919:


“Kid” Gleason is highly interested in the George Sisler of southwestern intercollegiate circles, a Texas “U” sophomore named “Bib” Falk, who is said to be able to do anything George can do and do it equally well.

“Bib” is 20 years old and a husky specimen, built like Joe Jackson, but owning more speed than the slugger. He throws and bats left-handed and plays the outfield, first base or pitches with consummate skill.

“Bib” is cleanup hitter for the “longhorns” and bats like a fellow in that position ought to.

A lot of times, these reports of a “new Sisler” or a “new Walter Johnson” are badly wrong, but I’ll give Kid Gleason credit here. Bibb Falk was a heck of a player. He hit .345+ twice in the majors and wound up with 22.5 career WAR and a lifetime .314/.372/.449 (113 OPS+) line as a big leaguer.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 09, 2019 at 10:10 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, April 08, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-8-2019

Washington Herald, April 8, 1919:


...we have the word of President Branch Rickey of the Cardinals for this—in St. Louis there is one player who can depose the Boston marvel and himself assume the title of “most versatile player in the game” with just a little encouragement.

This player, Rickey avers, can outhit, outpitch, outrun and out-think Ruth; he can fill more positions than Babe and play any or all of them better…The only reason this player has not utterly eclipsed Ruth in fame, popularity and salary is that he is a victim of poor exploitation and too great personal modesty.

Sisler—yes, that’s the fellow Rickey has in mind.

Branch Rickey was a genius, one of the smartest people ever to run a ballclub. As great as Rickey and Sisler were, though, Babe Ruth was Babe Ruth.

Elsewhere in the news 100 years ago today, Ban Johnson says it’s “bad business to sell baseball to poor people”, infielder Hank Schreiber is trying to win a job on the Braves despite a mangled left hand that hasn’t recovered from frostbite, and Reds manager Pat Moran won’t stand for his players fraternizing with the enemy before or during ballgames.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 08, 2019 at 10:15 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, nope

Friday, April 05, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-5-2019

Washington Times, April 5, 1919:

Baseball writers touring Dixieland all agree that Jack Coombs’ Phillies are about the worst looking collection of athletes ever seen trying to play ball in fast company. Connie Mack says nothing, but he’ll probably have the crowds next summer.

The 1919 Phillies were indeed terrible, going 47-90. Somehow the Athletics were worse (36-104).

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 05, 2019 at 10:04 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: bad teams, dugout, history

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-4-2019

El Paso Herald, April 4, 1919:

Special dispatches from the Cincinnati National’s training camp at Waxahachie, Tex., last night, say that pitcher “Slim” Sallee is in bad shape with a very lame back and may not be able to pitch for the local team this season. A Waxahachie physician who has been consulted said that Sallee’s case is severe and may involve being put in a plaster cast for two or three months. Sallee will leave Waxahachie for Cincinnati today to consult local physicians.

Exactly one month after this report, Slim threw a complete game three-hitter. He won 21 games with a 2.06 ERA (136 ERA+) in 1919. Sallee also won Game Two of the 1919 World Series, but it’s tough to know what to make of that. He was a heck of a pitcher, though, the sort of guy who could have mowed down the White Sox even if they had all been trying to win.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 04, 2019 at 10:30 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-3-2019

Wheeling Intelligencer, April 3, 1919:

Graveyard Latest Practice Place for Cincinnati Players

The Cincinnati baseball team added one more queer training ground to its list Monday, when it was found that Jungle Park was too muddy for a work-out. Last week the Reds worked on the streets, the railroad tracks and the platform of a cotton gin. Monday when the boys arrived at the park, they found the field so soft that Manager Moran decided to leave it undisturbed until afternoon and led them across the road to the confines of the town graveyard.

After remarking that this location was not selected as a reflection on Sherwood Magee, Slim Sallee, or any of the other old-timers. Moran picked out a few spots and the players threw and caught and bunted for over an hour.

I don’t think there’s an era adjustment I can make here. I think it’s just weird.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 03, 2019 at 10:20 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, April 01, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-1-2019

Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, April 1, 1919:

The Shibe Park requisition committee, consisting of C. Mack, Connie Mack and Cornellius McGillicudy, was all primed up to extend a hearty welcome to the home-coming ball players yesterday.
The committee was ambitious and anxious to attend to the greeting part of the day’s work, but the ball players were tardy; in fact, more than tardy. They never arrived, but he arrived, the “he” referring to Gene Bailey, who managed to leave Texas in time to reach [Philadelphia] yesterday.
[Connie Mack said,] “Bailey is the only one of the outfielders to put in an appearance, and none of the infielders are present, except George Burns and Dugan. Of course, those two were here before. Nothing has been heard from the rest of the men. It may be that they are on their way here. We hope they are, but they have not kept us informed.”

Uh-oh. What if they had a baseball team and nobody showed up to play?

You may be unsurprised to learn that the 1919 Athletics went 36-104 (.257) and finished 52 games out of first.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 01, 2019 at 10:16 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: bad teams, dugout, history

Friday, March 29, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-29-2019

Great Falls Daily Tribune, March 29, 1919:

Counsel for the Baltimore Federal league baseball club, in the trial of its suit against the American and National leagues and others for damages under the Sherman antitrust law, [yesterday] read to the jury a newspaper interview in which Ban Johnson, president of the league, was quoted as saying that the “Feds would be fought until counted out.”

The defense objected strenuously to the admission of the evidence, but was overruled. In the interview, the American league president was represented as saying that the Federal league was a joke, had no money, no parks and no players that amounted to anything. The counsel for the Baltimore club claimed these statements indicated the existence of a conspiracy to libel the Baltimore club.

That’s a weird direction for the plaintiff’s lawyer to go. I’m not sure what you can do with evidence that a rival business leader expressed the opinion that you suck.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 29, 2019 at 10:30 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-28-2019

Memphis News Scimitar, March 28, 1919:

Karlo Black, who brought the grunt ball into existence, will not be listed among Southern league moundsmen this season…And thus passes one of the most unusual charactes that the Dixie major ever had.

When he brought the grunt ball into being, he was in Nashville pitching for Birmingham against the Vols…The harder Black tried to stop them, the more runs the Volunteers made.

The next frame Black started pitching “from der heart oudt,” and with every pitch he emitted a grunt…He was then and there dubbed the “grunt ball artist,” and has always been known so ever since.

Black is a kraut-eating Dutchman, his real name being Karl Lautenschlager. But he showed that he was different from the oversea Hun by being a lover of sport and by getting rid of his obnoxious and tell-tale handle.

Yeah, if there’s one thing we know about Germans, it’s that they don’t like sports.



Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 28, 2019 at 10:55 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, pitches

The Year the Mets Jumped Over the Moon

On July 20, 1969, men walked on the moon in what became the centerpiece of one of the more indelible years in American history.

That same day, 50 years ago, the New York Mets split a doubleheader with the Montreal Expos. You could say, so what? But the Mets, until then a baseball punch line, had suddenly become a team to reckon with in the eighth year of their existence. The two games against the Expos gave them a 53-39 record, which meant they were a big, fat 14 games over .500. Considering everything that had come before for the Mets β€” the initial buffoonery, the occasional lunacy, the lopsided losing records β€” it seemed that they, too, were now defying gravity.

ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 28, 2019 at 05:49 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: history, mets

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-27-2019

Washington Times, March 27, 1919:

Frank O’Doul, the big Pacific coast southpaw, is providing the sensation of the Yankee camp [in Florida]. He has been pitching as recently as St. Patrick’s Day and is ready to go nine innings right now.

O’Doul threatens to be another Babe Ruth. In addition to his pitching ability, he looks like a slugger of the first water, and he is easily the speediest Yankee in sight, though this may mean little, as the Yankees are not gifted with much speed.
Manager Huggins may switch O’Doul to the outfield, if he can keep up his present good form, as he needs at least one southpaw hitter in the garden.

This was pretty perceptive, though it took nearly ten years for someone to let O’Doul play every day in the big leagues. At least PCL fans got to see him demolish everything in his path for a few years.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 27, 2019 at 10:08 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-26-2019

Washington Herald, March 26, 1919:

Organized baseball is not only a monopoly, but by the reserve clause of its contract makes slaves of its players, declared William L. Marbury, of the Baltimore bar, in the opening statement to a jury in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia yesterday…[at the trial] of the suit for $900,000 damages brought by the Baltimore Federal League club against the clubs of the National and American leagues and certain officials of the defunct Federal League.

Attorney Marbury said that baseball is a subject of commerce and not only that, but of interstate commerce and that by its “monopolistic” methods organized baseball throttled competition and made itself liable to the anti-trust law.

I know the story of the Federal League suit and the commerce clause, but I never realized the suit lasted this long. The Federal League played its final game three and a half years ago.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 26, 2019 at 09:39 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, federal league, history

Monday, March 25, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-25-2019

Pittsburgh Press, March 25, 1919:

“I see,” remarks Pat Moran, “that Bud Weiser, the outfielder, is again on the ineligible list of the Philadelphia club. Weiser is one of the few ballplayers who get set down through their conversational propensities.
Weiser says things forcefully, and somehow or other, he seems to generally select President Baker of the Philadelphia club to say them to. I distinctly remember one occasion when Mr. Baker criticized some play Weiser made and Weiser requested the president to go to the place where it is always tropical; he also commented on Mr. Baker’s appearance, ancestry, habits, and even his style of clothing.

I’m just impressed that Baker didn’t lose his temper and pound some Bud Weiser.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 25, 2019 at 10:19 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, pound that budweiser

Friday, March 22, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-22-2019

Chicago Eagle, March 22, 1919:

France, the country that went through the fightingest war in history without batting an eye, will never adopt baseball as a national pastime because the game is “too rough.”

This was learned from no less an authority than Capt. Christoper Mathewson, who has just arrived from France.
“Their infield work is rotten,” said Christy, “They can run bases all right, but they get little opportunity because they can’t bat…No, the Frenchman will never take to baseball in a big way. He prefers something more gentle, such as football and dueling.”

Elsewhere on the same page…

[Braves catcher] Hank Gowdy has written Manager George Stallings of the Boston Braves that he hopes to bring back with him from France a French soldier haved Flore Andris, who is, according to Gowdy, a real wonder as a ball player, and fit for a trial as a major leaguer.”

The French can’t play baseball. Also, this French guy is really good at baseball.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 22, 2019 at 09:50 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The First Grand Slam

There is no bronze plaque or anything to designate that herein lies the spot where Roger Connor became the first player to hit a grand slam in Major League Baseball history on Sept. 10, 1881, for the National League Troy Trojans in a game against the Worcester Ruby Legs.

“Connor’s grand slam was the first in MLB history,” John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball, confirmed in an email.

deadpilgrims Posted: March 20, 2019 at 12:06 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: history

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-20-2019

Pittsburgh Press, March 20, 1919:

Cy Williams, once one of the popular outfielders on the Cub team, has decided to retire from baseball. He owns a farm in Northern Wisconsin, and has learned that tilling the soil is more profitable than traveling around the National league circuit with the Phillies.
“I am sure Williams will not play ball with the Phillies this year,” said Mike Prendergast, Phillie twirler, who is responsible for the report that Cy has retired from the national pastime…“He had a wonderful potato crop last fall that convinced him he could do better on the farm than by playing ball.”

As Dave Bresnahan showed us, there’s no need to choose between baseball and potatoes.

Also in the Pittsburgh Press 100 years ago, Edward E. Burt, of Turtle Creek, would like to join a strong semi-professional baseball club. He can be addressed in care of the sporting editor of the Press.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 20, 2019 at 11:02 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, farm system, history

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-19-2019

Memphis News Scimitar, March 19, 1919:

Charles W. Murphy, former president of the Chicago club of the National league, who recently purchased five shares of stock in the organization, has filed a petition in the circuit court for a writ of mandamus to compel officials of the club to allow him to examine its books and records.

The action is directed against Fred L. Mitchell, president, and John O. Seyes, secretary, who, Murphy alleges, refused his request that he and his attorney be permitted to examine the club’s records.

Seems like a reasonable enough request, but makes me wonder what in the world he was doing buying a chunk of a business without seeing the books first.

Speaking of reasonable requests, Babe Ruth’s holdout continues. He’s asking for $10,000, which is half of Ty Cobb’s salary. Boston owner Harry Frazee has no interest in paying Ruth that kind of money.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 19, 2019 at 09:42 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, March 18, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-18-2019

Red Sox owner Harry Frazee gives an update on his contract negotiations with Babe Ruth, Pittsburgh Press, March 18, 1919:

“As far as Ruth is concerned, I have done everything possible to talk him into a reasonable frame of mind. Yet he remains obdurate and demands a contract that is absolutely out of the question. If I cannot come to terms with Ruth then I will get ready and see what other clubs will offer in the way of a trade…If Ruth doesn’t want to work for the Redsox at the handsome salary offered him, maybe we can make an advantageous trade for him with some other club.

Narrator: “They couldn’t.”

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 18, 2019 at 10:36 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: bad ideas, dugout, history

Friday, March 15, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-15-2019

The Fairmont West Virginian weighs in on the future of air travel in baseball, March 15, 1919:

Traveling by planes instead of railroad trains will have its advantages. There would be no necessity of open dates in the schedules as the long jumps could be made in hours less time than it takes to make them by train. World series could be played on alternate days even if the participating teams were as far apart as New York and Chicago. Circuits could be widened to take in greater territory than at present.

Well done, 1919 people, though players do still occasionally need a day off. There’s a limit to what greenies can accomplish.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 15, 2019 at 10:12 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-14-2019

El Paso Herald, March 14, 1919:

[Connie] Mack has come forth now with the announcement that he is through—absolutely through—selling star players. He is going to keep his stars henceforth, he says, and he means to give Philadelphia fans the best brands of baseball they have seen since the days of the old champions—as soon as he can. Mack has a lot of promising young players and a few old-timers, and his club as it shapes up today is not to be sneezed at.

The 1919 Phiadelphia Athletics went 36-104. Sneeze away.

Connie indeed dismantled a dynasty and sold his star players again, in December 1933. After Mack sold Lefty Grove and Mickey Cochrane, the Athletics went 36 years and two relocations before finishing less than ten games out of first.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: March 14, 2019 at 10:27 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

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